Francis Ngannou won six straight fights, in approximately two year’s time, to lock up a title fight with UFC heavyweight champ, Stipe Miocic. But according to the man who will face Ngannou next, luck played a big role in his rise.
Yes, that man is Derrick Lewis, who will battle Ngannou at UFC 226 on July 7th. The bout has been booked following Ngannou’s decision loss to Miocic in January, and after Lewis took out Marcin Tybura in February. It’s also been scheduled following various verbal exchanges Lewis and Ngannou have had.
Well, more recently Lewis appeared on “The MMA Hour”, and of course, Ngannou was a key topic. While discussing the upcoming bout and the abilities of “The Predator”, Lewis said this (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“Beating on Francis is really not going to really do too much for me anyway, because the guy got to where he’s at right now on luck,” Lewis said. “He fought Overeem — Overeem doesn’t have a chin. He fought Arlovski — Arlovski doesn’t have a chin. Fight somebody that’s tough. Fight a Mark Hunt, somebody like that who’s real tough. Don’t fight these old guys who are already on the downside of their career.”
How about that? Now, certainly other folks have questioned the chins of Overeem and Arlovski in the past. But, Ngannou boosters would likely point out that he has recorded several other, stoppage wins during his career. Also, when Ngannou took on Overeem, the decorated fighter was coming off wins over Fabricio Werdum and the aforementioned Hunt, which is no easy task.
But, this aside, it does seem like Lewis respects the skills of Ngannou. Case in point, he also said this:
“It is crazy. I felt the same way when I fought ‘Big Country’ [Roy Nelson], because seeing ‘Big Country’ fight everybody, knock everybody out — then it’s like a dream come true whenever I finally fought him,” Lewis said Monday on The MMA Hour. “It’s going to feel almost the same way fighting Francis. A guy like him beating everybody, knocking everybody out, then finally facing him — I just live for that type of rush, that thrill, because I don’t call anybody out that I know I could easily beat..”
It’s going to be fascinating to see how long this fight goes come July 7th. UFC 226 will be hosted by the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.